Album: Loudon Wainwright III, Recovery (Yep Roc)

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The Independent Culture

Through his work with Solomon Burke, Allen Toussaint, Bettye Lavette and others, producer Joe Henry has developed a reputation as a re-stylist of American roots-music icons.

While helping Loudon Wainwright III create the soundtrack to Knocked Up, he suggested that the songwriter re-record some of his early songs, and this is the result. It's an intriguing selection, all bar one song drawn from his first three albums. It offers a chance to reconsider youthful attitudes, most effectively when regarding the "blaspheming, booted, blue-jeaned baby boy" of "School Days" through a haze of piano and mandolin, or gazing wistfully at the young musician cajoling a one-night stand to his "Motel Room".

Henry's touch is light but decisive, evoking the frustration of writer's block through the rock of "Muse Blues" and suspending the meditation on celebrity "Saw Your Name in the Paper" between weighty drums and floating pedal steel guitar.

Pick of the album:'School Days', 'Motel Room', 'Muse Blues'